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The Rise of Asia

In the 1990s, North America, Europe, and Japan were the dominant scientific powerhouses of the world, publishing and patenting the most, and taking the titles of Most Innovative and Most Powerful. Now, says The Economist, a new UNESCO report paints a picture of "a waning West" and "a rising East and South," adding that "the sans culottes of science are on the march." In 1990, North America, Europe, and Japan carried out more than 95 percent of the research and R&D done in the world — by 2007 that number had dropped to 76 percent, the Economist says. China's spending on R&D is skyrocketing and the number of scientists there is set to overtake both the US and the EU. And countries like India and China are also publishing at a faster pace than the US and Europe, the article says. According to the UNESCO report, the US's share of world publications has slipped from 31 percent in 2002 to 28 percent in 2007, whereas China's share has more than doubled to 10 percent in that same time. China's patent filings are also on the rise, outpacing every other country in the world, according to a recent report from Thomson Reuters. But there is one bright spot for the West. "Although much of this might seem cause for the old regime to fret, there is one other pattern worth noting: that of growing international collaboration," the Economist says. "Thanks to cheap travel and the rise of the internet, scientists find it easier than ever to work together."

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